Controlled Use of Asbestos in Brazil?
Despite the fact that the Brazilian Supreme Court banned the commercial exploitation of asbestos in 2017, mining continues in the State of Goiás under state law 20.514/2019 which countermanded the Courts ruling and authorized production to resume for export purposes only.1 For decades, asbestos stakeholders in Brazil and other countries have argued that the safe use of asbestos is possible under controlled conditions. Epidemiological data and medical evidence have, time and again, exposed the vacuousness of this argument. With scores of national asbestos bans in existence and major international agencies agreeing that exposure to all types of asbestos can be fatal, the industrys mantra of controlled use has been thoroughly discredited.2
On April 24, 2022 a truck carrying 30 tonnes of asbestos fiber from Brazils SAMA3 chrysotile (white) asbestos mine in Minaçu, Goiás collided with two other vehicles on the way to the Port of Paranaguá on the coast of Paraná. The truck operated by Rodojunior Logística e Transportes (Rodojunior Logistics and Transport, also known as JNR Logistics) careered off the São José bridge discharging its cargo on the hillside and in the river below.4 The 36-year old truck driver was killed and two other people were injured in the collision on the BR-153 highway which involved another cargo vehicle and a passenger car.5 The truck had travelled 800 kilometers from the mine and had nearly 1,000 kilometers left on its journey to the port where its cargo was scheduled for export.
Support and rescue teams were called to the scene of the accident and an investigation is on-going. As of now, the environmental impact of the dispersal of the asbestos fibers remains unquantified.
Commenting on the tragedy, Eliezer João de Souza, President of the Brazilian Association of Asbestos Victims (ABREA), said:
We send our condolences to the family of the truck driver who died as a result of this tragedy as well as to the others injured on April 24th. We call on SAMA to make restitution to the bereaved family and not hide behind the fact that the transport had been outsourced. ABREA has total confidence that officials from the Public Ministry's National Asbestos Ban program will fully investigate the causes of the accident and the repercussions for the environment and local population of the dispersal of deadly asbestos fiber into the air as a result of the collision.6
May 4, 2022
1 AMIANTO: ANPT pede no STF suspensão de lei que permite utilização de amianto em Goiás [ASBESTOS: ANPT asks the STF to suspend the law that allows the use of asbestos in Goiás]. July 23, 2019.
2 Asbestos Policies of International Agencies. Last updated July 5, 2021.
3 The SAMA mining company is a subsidiary of Eternit, S. A.
4 Acidente com caminhão que carregava amianto da SAMA mata motorista na BR-153 [Accident with truck carrying asbestos from SAMA kills driver on BR-153]. April 28, 2022.
5 PRF registra acidente com morte na BR-153, em Prata [PRF records accident with death on BR-153, in Prata]. April 24, 2022.
6 Email received from Eliezer João de Souza, May 3, 2022.